Dhu'l Faqar Sword
Place of Origin: Probably Deccan, India
Date: 17th to 18th Century
This is a scarce and iconic sword-type known as a dhu'l faqar or zulfikar and closely associated with the Prophet Mohammed. Its split tip and serrated edges reflect two different interpretations of the shape of Muhammad’s sword. Of note, especially to Sikhs, is that the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, is believed to have had a remarkably similar sword which was given to the Maharajah of Malerkotla by the Guru as a mark of gratefulness towards the ruler who refused to have the Guru’s sons killed when they were brought before him for that purpose. An image which shows the sword with a straight khanda blade, scalloped at the sides and splitting at the tip is shown in a British Library document entitled Descriptions and Brij Mohan’s Drawings of Indian Arms Collected at Patiala 1904–1905.
The hilt is of basket or khanda form and has a substantial, faceted stalk ending in a domed pommel and allowing the sword to be wielded with two hands. The straight, double-edged blade is made of polished steel and flares towards the bifurcated foible. There is a short, reinforced ricasso and then the blade’s two edges have alternating smooth and serrated sections, filed most sharply. Each side is engraved along most of its length with two shallow parallel grooves that conclude in bifurcation and emulate the blade’s shape. A closely related sword is in the Metropolitan Museum (no.36.25.1508), and published in the book Islamic Arms and Armour in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1) — it can also be viewed online on the Museum’s website (2).
Provenance: London Art Market
(1) Alexander/Phyrr/Kwiatkowski, Islamic Arms and Armour in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015, p.187, no.71